47. Moonlit figure at Okarito

Moonlit figure at Okarito. 16 May 1981

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In the autumns of 1981 and 1982 I did photo tours of the South Island in a fitted-out van, cruising at a leisurely 40 mph (65 km/hr). With two Pentaxes for my own photography, I could enjoy monochrome or colour just as I preferred, as long as I had both cameras in harness – plus the large format gear for the calendar photos we were actually there for. Truth be told, each time I had an obliging assistant to help with the portage.

Arriving mid-May at Okarito, South Westland, just before dark, we parked near the old boathouse (still there today) and soon after, with the moon already up over the lagoon, I set up this self-portrait. That’s our camper in the background, with the highlights predictably burnt out. The real highlight for me though was having the moongleam off my glasses come out exactly as I had intended – two pin-pricks of light. Leaning back against the railing, hands deep in my jacket in the early chill of evening, I tried to guess the angle which would bounce the rays straight at the lens. That this would also be level with the ridge line was happy coincidence.

The translucence shows that I walked into the picture after the shutter was opened; the density of the shot was just as I had visualised it but the cloud movement was not anticipated. After processing Agfa Isopan (100 ISO?) with a reversal kit the slide was sepia toned for further effect. I have no record of actual camera settings but as the widest aperture on my 28mm wide angle was f2.5, shutter time must have been at least 5 minutes, and more likely ten.